Thursday, March 2, 2023

Tweetbot and Twitterrific Subscription Cliff

John Gruber (tweet, MacRumors, Hacker News):

Twitter’s kneecapping of third-party clients didn’t just mean that their future revenue was gone — it meant revenue they’d already collected from App Store subscriptions would need to go back to customers in the form of prorated refunds for the remaining months on each and every user’s annual subscriptions. Consider the gut punch of losing your job — you stop earning income. It’s brutal. Now imagine that the way it worked when you get fired or laid off is that you’re also suddenly on the hook to pay back the last, say, 6 months of your income. That’s where Tapbots and The Iconfactory are.


This week, both Tapbots and The Iconfactory released updates in the iOS App Store to Tweetbot and Twitterrific — not to restore any functionality, but to deal with the grim meathook reality of these paid-for subscriptions rendered useless by Phony Stark’s imperious shitheadedness. Both apps, upon launch, now simply display a single screen describing what has happened, and offer options to users with existing subscriptions.


Tweetbot offers users three choices. The first is an option to transfer your existing Tweetbot subscription to Ivory, Tapbots’s magnificent (and magnificently Tweetbot-like) new Mastodon client. […] Twitterrific offers two choices: the same do-nothing-and-get-a-prorated-refund-from-us option, and a clear “I Don’t Need a Refund” button with this heartfelt description[…]

Perhaps because I haven’t developed a subscription product, I’m really confused about what’s happening here. The idea that some customers would want a prorated refund since the apps no longer work makes sense. And most businesses aren’t prepared to deal with a large number of refunds, on top of no longer being able to sell their product. But I have questions about the details:


Update (2023-03-03): Bryan Jones:

Stripe will absolutely withdraw funds from your bank account to fill a refund or credit card dispute—I’ve had it happen. I’d expect Apple to do the same. (Unclear what happens if that withdrawal bounces due to lack of funds, though.)

8 Comments RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

I didn’t do the refund thing with Twitterrific because I did the expensive one time purchase a few years ago. I think it was $30. Seems like it was a good deal and hopefully left Icon Factory in better shape.

Kevin Schumacher

> Presumably, Apple can’t claw the funds back from your bank account

I haven’t read the developer agreement, but with nearly any payment processor, they have that exact scenario written into the contract. I’d honestly be shocked if Apple didn’t.

My sense is that there are legal reasons (in some jurisdictions; in enough, I suppose) that the refund has to be done, and it has to be opt-out.

I bought a license to Twitterrific years ago, but I haven't used the client in a long time. Nonetheless, I always liked The Iconfactory.

I've been using the free version of their Internet radio app, Triode, for awhile. It's a good app, and it offers an in-app purchase that enables a "Favorites" feature. I just bought the $19.99 option to show some support.

And how did these updates make it through App Store Review, considering the "4.2 Minimum Functionality" rule?

@KurtRuff I believe it's only fair for Apple to approve them, considering the scenario.

The Icon Factory touched on it a little in this blog post (, but basically because the apps were removed from the store, Apple was automatically initiating the refunds for the subscriptions.

The rest of the questions would be best posed to Craig, Paul or Mark.

@Tommy Thanks, but that”s the same post that I linked to before, and I don’t think it actually says what you say. It just says that the apps are removed and Apple is issuing refunds.

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